Home > Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2)(11)

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2)(11)
Meg Cabot

“I have to go to the hospital about a different kid,” I tell Julio. “Hopefully I’ll be back soon. Keep an eye on Tom for me, will you? He’s not used to any of this stuff.”

Julio nods somberly, and I know my request will be carried out to the letter…even if it means Julio has to fake a spilled can of soda outside the hall director’s door, so he can spend half an hour cleaning it up.

I manage to make it past all the people in the lobby and out into the cold without being stopped again. But even though—miraculously—there’s a cab pulling up in front of Fischer Hall just as I walk out, I don’t hail it. Instead, I hurry on foot around the corner, back toward the brownstone I left just a couple of hours before. If I’m going to be sitting in the hospital all day, there are a couple of things I need—like my remedial math textbook so I can be ready for my first class, if it isn’t canceled due to snow, and maybe my Game Boy, loaded with Tetris (oh, who am I kidding? Between studying and Tetris, it’s a solid bet I’ll be spending my morning trying to beat my high score). Still, maybe I can convince Lucy to come outside and get her business done, so I don’t have to worry about finding any surprises later.

The clouds above are still dark and heavy with unshed moisture, but that isn’t, I know, why Reggie and his friends are nowhere to be seen. They’ve scattered thanks to the heavy police presence around the corner, at Fischer Hall. They’re probably in the Washington Square Diner, taking a coffee break. Murder’s as tough on the drug business as it is on everything else.

Lucy is so puzzled to see me home this early that she forgets to protest about being let outside into Cooper’s grandfather’s cold back garden. By the time I’ve retrieved my textbook and Game Boy and come back downstairs, she’s sitting by the back door, her business steaming a few yards away. I let her back in and hastily clean up her mess, and am about to tear from the house when I notice the message light blinking on the machine in the hall—our house phone, as opposed to Cooper’s business line. I press PLAY, and Cooper’s brother’s voice fills the foyer.

“Um, hi,” my ex-fiancé says. “This message is for Heather. Heather, I’ve been trying to reach you on your cell as well as your work phone. I guess I keep missing you. Could you call me back as soon as you get this message? I have something really important I need to talk to you about.”

Wow. It really must be important, if he’s calling me on Cooper’s house line. Cooper’s family haven’t spoken to him for years—since they learned the family patriarch, Cartwright Records founder Arthur Cartwright, had left his black sheep grandson his West Village brownstone, a prime piece of New York City real estate (valued at eight million dollars). Relations hadn’t exactly been warm before that, though, thanks to Cooper’s refusal to enter the family business (specifically, Cooper refused to sing bass in Easy Street, the boy band his father was putting together).

In fact, if it wasn’t for me—and my best friend Patty and her husband Frank—Cooper would have spent Christmas and New Year’s by himself (not that the prospect of this seemed to have bothered him very much), instead of basking in the warm glow of family…well, Patty’s family, anyway, my own family being either incarcerated (Dad) or on the lam with my money (Mom. It’s actually probably good I’m an only child).

Still, I’d found during the years I’d dated Cooper’s brother that what was important to Jordan was rarely important to me. So I don’t exactly scoop up the phone and call him right back. Instead, I listen to the rest of the messages—a series of hang-ups: telemarketers, no doubt—and then head back out into the cold toward St. Vincent’s.

Now that I want one, of course I can’t find a cab, so I have to hoof it the five or six blocks (avenue blocks, not short street blocks) to the hospital. But that’s okay. We’re supposed to get a half hour of exercise a day, according to the government. Or is it an hour? Well, whatever it is, five blocks in bitter cold seem more than enough. By the time I get to the hospital, my nose and cheeks feel numb.

But it is warm in the waiting room—if chaotic…though not as much as it normally is: the weather forecast has apparently frightened most of the hypochondriacs into staying home—and I’m able to find a seat with ease. Some kindly nurse has turned the channel on the waiting room television set from Spanish soaps to New York One, so everyone can keep abreast of the coming storm. All I need to get comfy is a little hot cocoa—and I come by that easily enough, by slipping some coins into the coffee vending machine—and some breakfast.

Food, however, is less easy to come by in the St. Vincent’s ER waiting room, unless I’m willing to settle for Funyuns and Milk Duds from the candy machine. Which, under ordinary circumstances, I would be.

But in light of this morning’s events, my stomach is feeling a little queasy, and I’m not sure it can handle a sudden influx of salt and caramel with its usual ease.

Plus, it’s five of the hour…the time when the security guards open the ER doors and allow each patient inside to have visitors. In the case of my student, that visitor would be me.

Of course, when I need it, I can’t find the slip of paper Tom had handed to me, the one with the student’s name and ID number on it. So I know I’ll have to wing it when I get into the ER. Hopefully there won’t be that many twenty-one-year-olds in there, sleeping off way too many birthday shots from the night before. I figure the nurses might be able to help me out….

But in the end, I don’t need any help. I recognize my student the minute I lay eyes on him, stretched out on a gurney beneath a white sheet.

“Gavin!”

He groans and buries his face in his pillow.

“Gavin.” I stand beside the gurney, glaring down at him. I should have known. Gavin McGoren, junior, filmmaking student, and the biggest pain-in-the-butt resident in Fischer Hall: Who else would keep my boss up all night?

“I know you’re not asleep, Gavin,” I say severely. “Open your eyes.”

Gavin’s lids fly open. “Jesus Christ, woman!” he cries. “Can’t you see I’m sick?” He points at the IV sticking out of his arm.

“Oh, please,” I say disgustedly. “You’re not sick. You’re just stupid. Twenty-one shots, Gavin?”

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